Doyon Foundation student Matt Calhoun originally became interested in the civil engineering career field because he thought he would get to drive trains. His dreams have changed a bit, though, and today he plans to graduate and get a job teaching at the University of Alaska and working with the Alaska Native Science & Engineering Program (ANSEP), where he hopes to “motivate and empower more Alaska Native students to pursue a degree in science or engineering.”
Originally from Homer, Alaska, Calhoun is currently living in Boulder, Colo., where he is studying civil engineering at the University of Colorado at Boulder. He expects to graduate with his master’s degree in December 2009 and his PhD in 2012.
Calhoun, a Doyon Foundation scholarship recipient, said the support he has received from the Foundation has not only helped him personally, but will also benefit future students.
“I am thankful and grateful for the Doyon Foundation believing in their students by investing in our education,” he said. “Your support in my future will not only assist me in getting through school, but will also serve as an example after graduation, as I will continue to be an advocate and voice for future Alaska Native students to pursue higher education degrees, while keeping our cultural values.”
While Calhoun is primarily focused on his education, he has also found plenty of ways to give back. While living in Anchorage, Calhoun said he enjoyed volunteering to read books to young Native students through the First Alaskans Reader program.
“There is nothing that made my day better than to walk into a room full of young Native students and see their faces light up,” he said.
Calhoun also enjoyed delivering food boxes for the Southcentral Elders Program.
“Prior to that, I did not realize that some Elders are here for medical reasons and do not have any family in town,” he said. “Our food box drop-offs often turned into long visits, and I loved listening and learning about their amazing lives.”
A self-described “thrill-seeker,” Calhoun also likes traveling to developing countries, meeting new people, and “looking for the largest wave to surf, the deepest powder to snowboard and anything else that gets my blood pumping.”
He is the son of adoptive parents Dennis and Charlotte Calhoun, and biological and step-parents Mike and Rose Johns, and Steve and Lulu Vollertsen.